“Grant me the strength to do with ready heart and willing Whatever You command, my calling here fulfilling; That I do what I should while trusting You to bless The outcome for my good, for You must give success.(“O God, My Faithful God,” by Johann Heermann)
“Keep me from saying words that later need recalling; Guard me lest idle speech may from my lips be falling; But when within my place I must and ought to speak, Then to my words give grace lest I offend the weak.”
“Keep me from saying words that later need recalling.” We have all been there at some point, expressing thoughts and opinions that probably should not even cross our minds, much less be spoken aloud. We ask to be guarded from “idle speech,” not small talk about the weather or another harmless topic, but the idle speech of gossip and slander. Once spoken, those harmful words cannot be recalled. The damage is done. As the apostle James reminds us, the tongue “is a fire, a world of unrighteousness” (James 3:6a ESV). Like sparks that set a forest ablaze, “words that later need recalling” have no place among those who follow Jesus: “Now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (Colossians 3:8 ESV).
As Christians there are things about which we “must and ought to speak”—although always speaking “within my place,” because we don’t need to offer opinions about everything! We are to help those who are weak or new to the faith and we must “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:19b ESV). We are to defend people in need and those who may not be able to speak for themselves. We are to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ and build them up in the faith. If the need arises to call another person to repentance or warn against sin, we pray that God would give grace to our words so that we do not offend the weak.
There are other times and places when we “ought to speak.” We must always be prepared to answer anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that we have in Jesus. We are to do this “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15b ESV), with words and actions that reflect the love of Jesus. We are called to proclaim repentance and forgiveness in Jesus’ Name. Blinded by sin, an unbelieving world may be more interested in harmful, “idle speech” and less open to hearing about the Savior who died for them. So, as we share the Good News of forgiveness and life in Jesus, we pray that God would give grace to our speech, because the words of salvation are words that never need recalling!
We Pray: Lord, give me grace to speak to others of the Good News of salvation. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, “O God, My Faithful God,” which is number 696 in the Lutheran Service Book.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on October 1, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights
1. Do you try to keep yourself “in check” from speaking too quickly and saying things you wish you hadn’t?
2. Sometimes it’s how we say something that is a problem for others. Can you give an example?
3. What would speaking with “gentleness and respect” look like in real life?